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Quasar checking on a energy reading heading toward Earth found Jack Of Hearts leading a rag-tag group of tethered hulls. He confronted Jack, who responded with naked aggression having taxed his powers and patience to the limit on his trip from the Stranger’s lab world. After a brief struggle Jack found himself betrayed by two other members of the entourage the Presence and Red Guardian II. The Presence attempted to kill Quasar outright, but when Jack refused to take part in murder he blasted him instead. Then with a close-range blast to the temples he thought Quasar dead. However Quasar quantum-jumped at the last possible second. Finding that the Presence was heading Earthward in one direction while the tethered refugee ships headed into the atmosphere in another threatening to burn up. He caught up with the ships as they entered Russian airspace and he rendered them invisible to radar and planted them down in Siberia. He questioned the occupants of the ships and found that despite their very alien appearances in some cases they were all very human. He then found that Eon (his cosmic mentor) was under direct attack and was forced to leave them there.

He radioed ahead to the Fantastic Four, telling them that a couple of cosmic level menaces were breaking into a lower level of their building. The FF was able to capture the Red Guardian II, and Quasar was able to arrive in time to protect Eon by trapping the Presence in the Eonverse. Feeling that he had saved his mentor from the “Cosmic Assassin”, Quasar decided it was time to celebrate. He instead found the girl he was just starting a relationship with in the arms of his best friend, Makkari. In his anger, he left the scene without a word to either of them. He traveled to his father’s house and found him dead on the kitchen floor. He learned to his shock that his father had been dead since Quasar was at the Stranger’s Lab world weeks earlier. Quasar felt betrayed. Eon chose to re-animate Gilbert Vaughn:char:29147]] because he was certain that the Cosmic Assassin had killed him to throw off Quasar’s mental stability, and Eon was not convinced that the Presence had been the threat that Quasar had been appointed to combat. Quasar quit as Protector and told Eon to stay out of his life. It was as he had driven a wedge between Eon and his Protector that the true Cosmic Assassin chose to reveal himself.

Malcolm Stromberg, a wealthy philanthropist wanted to gain the services of Vaughn Securities and offered the entire staff over to his mansion for an extravagant dinner. After some very brief pleasantries, Mr. Stromberg began to tell a story his past, about how he was a Deviants/Inhumans hybrid, and that he knew Wendell Vaughn’s identity as Quasar, saying in no uncertain terms that he wanted Quasar’s Quantum Bands. Not knowing what else to do, Quasar attacked only to find his beams bending around Stromberg. Quasar attempted to parlay for the release of his friends as Stromberg held him motionless in mid-air seeming through some mastery of kinetic energy. Stromberg would have none of it and over the course of several minutes cut Quasar’s arms off with a steak knife as his friends were powerless to do anything but watch. Malcolm Stromberg then revealed himself to be none other than Maelstrom, the Cosmic Assassin.

 

Maelstrom learned over the course of hours how to augment his own power with the near limitless might of the Quantum-bands. He then traveled to the Eonverse with the intent to kill Eon and take the secret of Cosmic Awareness from it. Back on Earth, after several hours of being strung up like a slaughtered lamb, Deathurge appears to Quasar; explains that he could release him from this torment, taunting him, even getting Quasar to beg for death, but then Deathurge reminds him of his prophetic warning all those months ago on the surface of Uranus, Deathurge refuses Quasar’s plea and leaves. Later, after he is whipped repeatedly by one of Maelstrom’s minions, Quasar finally died when his personal death avatar (Kid Reaper) appeared before him and stabbed him through the heart. Maelstrom immediately donned the Quantum-bands and began burning large swaths through Eon’s body with Quantum energy.

 

Now, in the empty void there is an energy wraith that appears to be a still armless Quasar. Kid Reaper appears next to him as they assess the situation, Kid Reaper admits that this has never happened to him before and he has no idea what this place is. Quasar realizes that dead or alive, he still has a responsibility to Eon and the universe, no matter form he is in. He realizes that the energy manifestation of his starscaped cape can send him wherever he wishes to go. So, he travels through it and re-appeared in the Eonverse.

Once there, Eon directs him to Maelstrom but asks that Quasar kill Eon before Maelstrom can steal cosmic awareness from him. Explaining that if Maelstrom is able to learn the secrets of the universe, then there is no telling the damage he could do. Thinking that Eon is the one animating him, Quasar figures he’ll probably cease to exist once Eon is dead, so Quasar asks Kid Reaper that once Quasar is dead to contact the Avengers and have them kick Maelstrom’s butt.

Quasar quickly arrives at the base of Eon’s brain, which is about the size of a moon, where Maelstrom reclines in a chair and has created various probes into the grey matter. Maelstrom hears Eon explain where Quasar should fire a blast that would result in immediate death for Eon. Maelstrom howls in rage at the sudden re-appearance of his adversary and attempts to blast him into nothingness, but since the energy-wraith Quasar is made from the same energy type that the Quantum-bands produce the beam passes harmlessly through him. Quasar responds by heeding his mentor’s wishes and firing a bolt of energy right into Eon’s Brainstem.

 

As the smoke and dust clears Quasar is shocked to find himself still in existence and Maelstrom is fully enraged by this turn of events. It’s then that Quasar finds that as his last act, Eon passed cosmic awareness to him. Maelstrom attempts to threaten Quasar into giving up the gift, but Quasar rightfully notes that there’s nothing more Maelstrom can do to harm him. Maelstrom sadly agrees and then quantum-jumps to high earth orbit; Quasar follows.

Maelstrom uses his mastery of kinetic energy to halt the Earth’s rotation, which would hypothetically wipe out all life on the planet within minutes. He then offers Quasar a choice. He will free Earth if Quasar gives him the secrets of cosmic awareness. Quasar realizes that Maelstrom would only wreak even more devastation across the universe. Unable to make the decision to sacrifice the Earth for the greater good of the universe, Quasar retreats into the Quantum-zone. Maelstrom summons Deathurge after dispatching Kid Reaper and explains that he had already stolen cosmic awareness from Eon when Quasar killed him; he just wanted Quasar to give his up. Maelstrom then notes that they are being watched by Earth’s Watcher, Uatu. The Watcher pleads with them to stop their reign of destruction. Maelstrom directs Deathurge to cut out the Watcher’s eyes, but the Watcher vanishes.

  Doctor Strange and a cadre of other mystics manage to keep the side-effects of rotation being stopped from doing much damage.

Quasar flying through the Quantum-Zone to regroup discovers his true benefactor allowing him to continue to exist beyond death. Infinity. She makes Quasar her Avatar and explains that Maelstrom has created a large black hole that will continue to grow until it completely encompasses the entire universe, leaving him as its single anomalous ruler.

Quasar returns to normal space and attempts to replace the matter and energy with the power Infinity has lent him as it is taken by the black hole. Maelstrom senses this and attacks him; Quasar maneuvers them into the event horizon of the black hole, destroying Maelstrom. Quasar then realizes his previous attempt would not be enough and throws himself into the maw of the black hole and attempts to release all the power at his disposal which could start a reaction that might reverse the flow of the black hole. However he is shunted to Oblivion’s realm, he is greeted by Oblivion and his new Avatar, Maelstrom.

Maelstrom is quickly augmented by Oblivion, and Maelstrom declares that they will thrash the Infinity-force out of him. It is then that Infinity makes her presence known she augments Quasar so that he and Maelstrom are on even terms; Oblivion tells her that it is time that a new deal is struck between the forces of life and death. Infinity regretfully agrees.

The battle is met and they find that they are indeed too evenly matched, which means that there is no one to stop the black hole. Finally after several minutes Quasar realizes that his retroactively changed costume makes him more of an anomaly than Maelstrom, this minor fact throws off Maelstrom’s concentration and he is destroyed by the Quantum-bands, causing a chain reaction which causes the black hole to reverse itself.

 

Eternity and Death arrive on the scene to strike a new deal with their siblings; Quasar unable to glean a single word of the conversation returns to Earth. He restores the Earth’s rotation, freeing all of Earth’s mystics who were holding off the detrimental effects. Quasar returns to his body and merges his energy avatar with it, placing the Quantum-bands at the end of the severed arms. He resurrects himself and restores his hands. Creating a new costume. Infinity appears before him and explains that a new deal has been made; Quasar returns the power she lent to her. She goes on to explain that the universe is in his debt.

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